A search insights lesson for back-to-school

9/15/11 | 11:00:00 AM

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(Cross-posted on the Official Google Blog)

Time to sharpen those pencils: now that the back-to-school season is winding down and students are back at their desks, we thought we’d take a look at some popular searches from the last few weeks. Students across the U.S. are hitting the books—although, as we found, not all their back-to-school searches are academically inclined. Overall, search interest in [back to school] is up about 10 percent from last year.


After a three-month hiatus, everyone wants to make a great impression on the first day of school. Searches related to starting fresh—like [kids shoes], [kids haircuts] and [healthy school lunches]—jump during the back-to-school season. People are also eager to sport just the right look—searches for [first day of school outfit] have increased 20 percent since the 2010 season. A well-stocked locker is also top of mind for many at the start of the school year. Search interest for back-to-school staples like pencils, notebooks and backpacks routinely peaks during the season, as kids compare colors, styles and designs online. But tech-savvy students are seeking new essentials for the classroom. Searches for [tablet] exceeded searches for [backpack] for the first time in a July-September period. And with [etextbook] searches up 50 percent from September 2010, look for ereaders to slip into more backpacks in the future.


Crossing items off the back-to-school list is rewarding, but it’s a lot more satisfying when there’s a bargain involved. This year is no exception with shoppers scanning for deals before heading to stores. Searches for [back to school coupons] and [back to school sales] increased 10 and 25 percent, and searches for [printable coupons] jumped 45 percent from last year’s season.


College-bound freshmen seem to be looking for ways to take charge of their finances. Searches for [bank account] and [open bank account] peak in August, and were up about 20 percent from last year’s back-to-school season. Searches for [student credit card] are also highest during this time of year, along with searches for the means to pay a credit card bill: [campus jobs]. In recent years, securing a steady source of income has trumped on-the-spot spending. While searches for [student credit card] have decreased 30 percent since 2004, searches for [campus jobs] have steadily increased, up 50 percent in the same period.


Finally, we’ll leave you with a few back-to-school essentials that might not have made your list. To avoid using the modern version of the old “my dog ate my homework” excuse, protect your computer with a [laptop lock]—searches regularly spike in in August. If you’ve been thinking about picking up an instrument, now’s the time to jump on the bandwagon (pun intended), as searches for [flute], [cello], [violin] and [clarinet] jump every September. And for your mother’s sake (and your roommate’s), find a good [laundry service] on campus. Search interest peaks in September, though the clothes-washing learning curve lasts the entire year.